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  • Where to start

    Hello all! New member here and I could use some help on where to start my career in law enforcement.

    First of all a little about myself, I am 20 years old I turn 21 in may. I have wanted to be a police officer since I was 15 or so and glad i can finally pursue the career. I currently live in Colorado but my ideal place to work is California. Right now I am enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as a reservist. I leave for boot camp June 2013 and if everything goes planned I will be home in early December 2013.

    My main question is, when I come home for good i would love to move to California and attend some sort of academy. Ive visited Southern California multiple times and absolutely love it! Now, would you guys recommend going to a post certified academy, Or should I apply departments and try to go through one of their academies.

    Basically I'm asking what steps i should take to start my career in law enforcement.

    Thank you for your time!

  • #2
    I guess it depends on how much of a gambler you are.

    Academy tuition is about $4 to 5K. On top of that, you will need money to pay for food, rent, insurance and the basic necessities of life for the (what is it now?) five months you will be putting yourself through. That is a huge investment. Once you are out there I guarantee of a job, you will be competing against every other academy graduate for what few vacancies there are and on top of that, you will also be competing against those trained and experienced cops who have been laid off from cash strapped cities.

    To compound things, it used to be that if you didn’t find a job in one year after graduation, your POST readiness lapsed and you had to turn around and go through a whole new academy again. I don’t know if that window has been extended. (Anyone?)

    So as far as moving across the country and sending yourself through the academy is concerned, all I can do is remind you of what Clint Eastwood once asked, “Do you feel lucky?”
    Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere


    • #3
      If you are dead set on it, do something to make yourself stand out of the croud, learning a second language comes to mind. It is a field that is flooded with applicants, one opening around here will draw hundreds of them. A lot of times you have to beat most of them on paper before you even get a chance to speak to the hiring board.

      L-1 not sure how it works in Cal, but around here we are different. We do not have an academy per se, but college followed by skills (or both at the same time in my case). After you graduate you take the POST test and if you pass, you are POST elligable for 3 years. If not hired in those 3 years you must retake the test.
      Last edited by Empire02; 01-08-2013, 10:50 PM.
      The views expressed in the above post are the sole opinion of the author and do not reflect any official position by the author's employer and/or municipality.


      • #4
        Thank you both for the input, I defiantly have my mindset on California. I understand if i do move out to Cali there is a big risk of not finding a job. But living wise my childhood best friends parents live in Huntington Beach, So living wise I would have a place. I understand the post academy is expensive, the one near my house is 7 grand.

        I also understand I need to stand out. A second language would be something I am interested in. Before anything I would like to finish school up and get my associates degree in criminal justice. Hopefully some sort of degree and Marine Corps experience will give me some sort edge on other candidates but i understand a lot of others will be more qualified than me.

        Here is another question. If I went to academy in Colorado. And was hired at a department here, after a few years I decide to move out to California with money saved up, How would i go about applying to departments there. Would I need to re-attend another post academy, or is there some sort of test to transfer my post certificate.

        Thanks again!


        • #5
          I can speak for the other states, but standing out in California is a little different from what you may be expecting.

          We are primarily civil service out here and you are rated on demonstrated ability to perform the duties of the job you are seeking. There are two major components to this.

          First, you will take a written exam that (again) measures your ability to perform the job. The more correct answers you give, the higher you score.

          Next, you will take an oral exam. You will be scored on things like:

          Experience – assesses your ability and experience in accepting responsibilities and performing assigned tasks as demonstrated through achievements in work, school, and other activities.

          Problem Solving – assesses your reasoning skills in developing timely, logical responses to a wide variety of situations and problems.

          Communication Skills – assesses your oral communications skills, which includes speaking, listening, and non-verbal communication.

          Interest/Motivation – addresses your interest in and preparedness for the peace officer job. It includes an assessment of your general level of interest, initiative, and goal orientation.

          Interpersonal Skills – assesses many facets, such as social knowledge/appropriateness, social insight, empathy, social influence, social self-regulation, sociability, team orientation, social self-confidence, conflict management skills, and negotiating skills.

          Community Involvement/Awareness – focuses specifically on your experiences and interest in community issues, as well as your interest in and ability to fill multiple roles and serve a diverse community.

          Your combined scores from these two exams will be added together and candidates are hired in the order of their score – highest first, next highest second, etc. The only significant advantage your military service will give you is what’s known as Veteran’s Credit – it adds a couple of extra points to your final score. That’s it.

          If you work in one state and then move to California you can challenge the POST exam and the take classes in California law, search and seizure, etc., but again, getting hired is a long process and you will have to find an agency willing to hire you and some way to pay the bills while you go through a long, drawn out job search and hiring process.

          In short, getting a job in law enforcement is not like a private business where you fill out an application and get hired in the next week or two. For most folks this is a 12 to 18 month process if not longer in this down economy. I'm not trying to discourage you - just prepare you.
          Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere


          • #6
            My first advice to you is to read, re-read, and yes, read once more, the replies of my colleagues. We've done numerous, and I do mean numerous discussions on the pros and cons of self-sponsor academies.

            I suggest you use the "search function" to view these discussions. I'll attempt to briefly summarize them for you. Self sponsor academies are essentially a crap shoot (Do you feel lucky?). It's entirely possible that after the expenditure of a considerable amount of both time and money, that you'll be dumped into a still very toxic hiring market. This with absolutely zero prospects for employment.

            Additionally, quite a few self sponsor academies exist to simply take your money, so you'll need to do some thorough research and separate the good from the bad.

            It's possible, that certification prior to application/possible hire can be an advantage. This is especially true for smaller agencies which don't run their own academies.

            Be certain too. to read and understand L-1's comments concerning Civil Service agencies. I believe the great majority of agencies in Southern California are Civil Service agencies. These hiring processes are lengthy, highly impersonal, and often frustrating.

            I grew up in Southern California fifty plus years ago. The cost of living was high then. I still have relatives there, and visit at least annually. The cost of living is astronomical compared to Alabama.

            I echo my colleague's sentiments concerning discouraging you, but please take heed of what he's advised.


            • #7
              My question would be, if you are going to be a reservist and want to move. Where and how do you plan on getting your drill time done?
              "An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded."


              • #8
                Thank you for the input, Its not discouraging one bit, I know how hard it will be to get a job and after I start to apply I wont quit. I understand now In California it will take months before getting hired and I am now aware of that thank you for helping me out. I still have a year before I even start looking at academies, Just trying to get some intel and a head start. I will do a lot more research, and sorry I will use the search more often too.

                Also as a reservist if I move states I can move units. All I do is meet with the NCO of that specific location and unit and then there is paper work. Then I move to the state and also transfer units.


                • #9
                  Transferring within the Reserve is probably the least of your concerns at present. The rest,........well, we've briefed you on that. Good luck.


                  • #10
                    It's unfortunate that you are dead-set on moving to California from Colorado for the simple reason that there are a lot more employment opportunities opening up here than many other places. CSPD is starting to hire again after laying off a lot of officers a few years ago. DPD hasn't hired an officer in over 2 years and will be looking to add ~200 officers in the next several years (from people I've talked to). APD is still hiring entry level recruits every year. And I just heard today that Arapahoe is looking to do a mass hiring of deputies this year.

                    When I got into LE a few years ago I had military experience and a bachelors degree but also had a home and bills to pay, so I paying out of pocket for a full-time academy was not an option. I was forced to focus on getting hired by a large agency that ran it's own academy and luckily I made the cut got in.

                    IMHO just weigh your options and find what is the best fit for you and your current situation. Best of luck!


                    • #11
                      Thanks for the replys I am thinking staying in Colorado would be best maybe down the road if I had money saved up I could move, but I like the fact places here will be hiring soon. Recently I have talked to local departments and they've been helping me, I've talked to the chief answered alot of question, even told me to come see them when I'm done with bootcamp which is a good start! I appreciate all the help guys and hopefully in a year ill start the first part of my career!


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